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Former UNC Athletes Bring Home Olympic Gold, Serve As Inspiration To Others

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CHAPEL HILL — Nineteen Olympians have ties to theUniversity of North Carolina; 15 of those athletes won gold medals.

UNC track and field coach Dennis Craddock helped 11 Tar Heels get to the 2000 Olympics Games. Now, he is looking for the future athletes to compete at the 2004 Games in Athens.

For competitors like UNC senior Jacobi Foster, the dream of winning a gold medal suddenly seems in reach.

"It was really special to see the people who were my teammates actually out there. It was a kind of, 'Hey, If they can do it, I can do it' thing, so it was really nice," he says.

Marion Jones, Monique Hennagan and La Tasha Colander-Richardson, three of the four members of the 4x100 women's relay team who won the gold medal, attended Carolina.

Other Olympians with UNC ties include 11 track and field athletes, seven members of the U.S. women's soccer team and NBA star Vince Carter.

Former UNC track star Nicole Miller says the athletes supported each other during the Olympics.

"We all stuck together, cheered for each other, encouraged each other, and hung out too," Gamble says.

Aspiring Olympians say bringing home the gold is the moment that they practice, train and live for.

"You have seen them train, and you know what they are like," says UNC athlete Jeff Ellis. "You know that their hard work paid off, and that if you emulate what they do, it may work for you."

UNC wants to celebrate its Olympians with a special ceremony, as does the Governor's Office. The mayor of Apex has also expressed interest in celebrating town resident Marion Jones' accomplishments.


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